In many ways, this year’s CES technology show in Las Vegas is business as usual. Devices are getting thinner, a new acronym is spawned every minute, and every company is revolutionising something in their press releases.
What are the products whose implications will last longer than the in-show hype, though? Below, we’ve rounded up 25 of the new products and technologies from CES 2015 that are worth talking about. Which, note, isn’t the same thing as calling them the “best” products or the ones most likely to be commercially successful.
Take a read, then have your say in the comments section on some of the issues raised by these products.
Gogoro’s Smartscooter is an electric scooter with a range of nearly 100 miles, but you don’t recharge its battery: you swap it. The company will operate a series of hubs where batteries can be reserved ahead of time, then swapped for the one that’s running out. There’s no news on its launch date or likely price, including the cost of the ongoing subscription for the batteries.
Talking point: better or worse than the Tesla model of charging points?
Voxel8 3D printer
There are plenty of 3D printer companies showing off their new devices at CES, but the Voxel8 is the most intriguing of the lot. Its focus is on printing electronic circuits rather than just plastic objects, using conductive ink that dries quickly, and can be embedded in other objects. In the future, it could be used from devices including hearing aids, wearable gadgets and even quadcopter drones.
Talking point: What does it mean for tech if we can print our own circuits?
Nvidia Tegra X1
Nvidia’s latest chip isn’t a chip – at least not according to the company, which is pitching it as a “superchip” thanks to its 256 processor cores and eight CPU cores. Introduced at CES amid some grand claims – “more power than a supercomputer the size of a suburban family home from 15 years ago” – it’ll be making its way into products in due course – including cars, via Nvidia’s Drive CX cockpit computer, which sports two of ‘em.
Talking point: is “mobile computing” a separate category any more, processor-wise?
Sharp Aquos Beyond 4K Ultra HDTV
If you’ve been playing oneupmanship with friends on the quality of your television, Sharp just unlocked a new level: 8K. Well, not strictly 8K – hence the “beyond 4K” in the title of its new TV, which uses pixel-splitting technology to deliver an effective resolution of 7,680 x 4,320. Or, as the company is pitching it: “virtual 8K”. It’ll also be one of the flagship models for Google’s new Android TV platform.
Talking point: that’s a nice 8K telly, but who’s making 8K shows and films?
SkySpecs Guardian drone
Remember that hovering drone in TGI Friday that spoilt Christmas for one diner by flying into her nose? It turns out some drone companies are thinking hard about getting drones to avoid humans. SkySpecs showed its Guardian drone at the TechCrunch Hardware Battlefield contest during CES, with its ability to sense humans walking towards its whirring blades, and take evasive action.
Talking point: how would this work in a crowded area: for example a restaurant?
Razer OSVR Hacker Dev Kit
Known for its PC and gaming accessories, Razer is also hoping to give Facebook’s Oculus Rift virtual reality headset some competition. Its OSVR headset isn’t a commercial product, as such: the $199 device is more a development platform to help people experiment with VR apps and games, with partners including Unity, Sixense and Leap Motion.
Talking point: can this stop Oculus dominating developers’ thoughts for VR?
Siemens smart hearing aids
In terms of technology that actually has an impact on people’s daily lives, drones and VR headsets come a long way behind hearing aids. That’s why Siemens’ latest products in that category deserve a wider airing: the “smart” part is their promised ability to adapt to different conditions, as well as their integration with iOS and Android apps for other features.
Talking point: hearing aids – will people want apps for that?
Sony FDR-X100V action camera
GoPro doesn’t have the “action camera” market all to itself: traditional tech firms like Sony are just as keen to be helping bikers, skiiers and other explorers – drones included – record their feats. Its new $500 camera’s key selling point is its ability to record at 4K resolution, as well as the promise of wind-noise reduction.
Talking point: can Sony dislodge GoPro as the helmet/drone-cam of choice?
HP Zvr 3D display
There are plenty of concept products floating around CES 2015, as in previous years. HP’s Zvr display will be going on sale, though, with a pair of glasses and a connected stylus that enable users to see and manipulate objects in 3D. Including, in the CES demo given to The Verge, a beating heart. For educational potential alone, this is well worth watching.
Talking point: when will this tech be affordable enough to be more than a novelty?
Intel wants to be big in wearables: 2014’s acquisition of fitness-tracker firm Basis Science and its $25m investment in smart eyewear maker Vuzix show that. Curie is the latest sign of its ambitions: a button-sized device including Intel’s system-on-a-chip for wearable devices. The idea is that manufacturers will use Curie to give them a head start when making wearables, including preserving battery life.
Talking point: fitness-trackers, yes, but what else will Curie power?
Volkswagen Golf R Touch Concept
The fact that Minority Report gets wheeled out so often as a comparison for whizzy gestural user interfaces suggests we need more filmmakers to dream up future tech. Without Tom Cruise in sight, the controls for Volkswagen’s new concept car’s dashboard are interesting: tracking hand movements via a 3D camera to trigger volume, lighting and other features without you actually touching the dashboard.
Talking point: is this more distracting than reaching out for a knob or button?
MakerBot’s new 3D printing materials
MakerBot didn’t launch any new 3D printers at CES, focusing instead on announcing some new materials for its customers to print with. Its new filaments use composites of limestone, iron and wood to provide a greater range of looks and textures for items printed. Good for anyone making prototypes of objects that don’t lend themselves to a plastic finish.
Talking point: a bigger leap forward for 3D printing than any single new printer?
Qualcomm is another big company that wants to take a pivotal role in new technologies: drones, in this case. Snapdragon Cargo is a “flying and rolling robot with an integrated flight controller”, a showcase for its Snapdragon processor in the same way that its Snapdragon Rover and Micro Rover robots were.
Talking point: how soon will Cargo’s tech be available in affordable consumer drones?
New Mophie Juice Packs
There’s nothing wildly new about Mophie’s new battery packs for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones, but for many owners of those devices, they’ll be a big deal: promising up to 120% extra juice per charge for the 6 and 60% for the 6 Plus. While the latter handset in particular has a beefier battery than previous iPhones, the balance between battery life and performance means companies like Mophie have become an important part of many people’s smartphone lives.
Talking point: seriously though, when is the next big leap in battery tech?
HP Stream mini PC
HP thinks there’s legs in teeny-tiny PCs, judging by its two-inch Stream mini, which will be accompanied by a more expensive Pavilion mini with a similar shape and size. The company is promising quiet running thanks to the devices using 45 watts of power, with an emphasis on cloud storage (with just 32GB of local storage, you’ll likely be needing it).
Talking point: would people rather have tiny PCs or decent-sized tablets?
Samsung SUHD TVs
Another year, another acronym in the world of high-end televisions: Samsung’s SUHD sets are even more super (presumably) than existing UHD (ultra high-definition) sets that people have been buying since the last CES. Cue boasts of “eco-friendly nano-crystal technology and intelligent SUHD re-mastering picture quality engine” from Samsung, and cries of “oh, they’re curvy” from punters.
Talking point: how is the picture really better, in plain English?
Sony SmartEyeglass Attach!
Google Glass is far from a mainstream success, but there are a smattering of other companies hoping to bring smart eyewear to the masses. Or at least to a few more people who aren’t rich white men in Silicon Valley. Sony actually has two products on the go, but its SmartEyeglass Attach! is the most interesting, since it clips on to normal glasses with its miniature screen.
Talking point: how small does it need to get before it’s ready for the mainstream?
Panasonic UHD Blu-ray player
Another prototype with an unclear on-sale date, but Panasonic is the first company to break cover with a Blu-ray player capable of pumping out 4K-quality video, rather than just 1080p content. It’s expected to be one of several models by the end of this year, although nobody tell Panasonic about Sharp’s “virtual 8K” plans…
Talking point: will you watch 4K films from physical discs or streamed from Netflix?
Withings Activité Pop
This new fitness-tracking watch isn’t just one of the cheapest in its category – it’ll sell for $150 – but also one of the nicest looking thanks to its neat, traditional design. The Activité Pop is a third of the price of its predecessor, the Withings Activité, counting steps and sleep quality alike. And it promises to run for eight months at a time from a standard watch battery.
Talking point: are watches ultimately going to be the best fitness-tracking devices?
Samsung SSD T1 storage device
That 16GB USB drive you carry around for work? Pfft. Samsung’s latest tiny storage device is – TECH CLICHÉ ALERT – the size of a business card, yet can hold up to a terabyte of content in its most expensive version. For anyone who needs to transfer files quickly between devices, this and similar devices are likely to be common, with the price coming down relatively quickly too.
Talking point: would this appeal over cloud storage for you?
Toshiba ChihiraAico robot
She looks very realistic. She talks… slightly less so. But ChihiraAico is a “communication Android” – an early glimpse at the kind of robots that might be working in “tomorrow’s service industry and homes”. Translation: you can be as rude as you like about her now, but when you’re old and ChihiraAico version 4.0 is making your lunch, you may regret it.
Talking point: are robots more or less creepy if they’re humanoid?
Narrative Clip 2
Narrative is one of the prime movers in the “lifelogging” area: making small camera designed to be worn on your clothes, which snap regular photographs as you go about your daily business. Its second-generation model was unveiled at CES: easier to clip on, with a better eight-megapixel camera and the ability to wirelessly sync photos with the cloud and/or your smartphone.
Talking point: what’s the social cost of having a camera pointing at everyone you meet?
The first 3Doodler was a pen device which did well on Kickstarter, then became one of the most accessible ways to explore 3D printing. Now it’s back, launching a Kickstarter for version 2.0 as it was shown off at CES – it’s already exceeded its $30,000 goal by a great distance. The update is slimmer, lighter and quieter to use, with a new nozzle promising “crisper Doodles”.
Talking point: what would you doodle, and would the novelty wear off?
Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury in Motion
Google certainly doesn’t have the self-driving car space to itself these days: Mercedes-Benz revealed its concept car at CES, complete with Leap Motion gestural controls and seats facing one another, corporate meeting-style. Also interesting: the slightly Knight Rider-ish LED displays at the front and back, to communicate with pedestrians and other drivers.
Talking point: even if we’re not driving, is it good to be more unaware of the outside world?
Sleep Number SleepIQ Kids Bed
Not just a smart bed, but a smart bed for children: this monitors their sleeping patterns, can alert parents if they get out of bed during the night, can have its lights turned on and off remotely, and even includes a “monster detector” to ease young minds’ night-time fears.
Talking point: should we really be quantifying our children’s selves?
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